Monday, July 22, 2013

The first day

For us all today was the first day of the rest of our lives.  For the new students where I work today was more important than most days, it was the first day of their studies, the day that will lead to their future.  It was the day we welcome them to the polytechnic community.

A small marae (maori meeting house) stands at the entrance to the polytech and it is here that people gather on special occasions.  

 I'm not going to try to explain the protocols of the powhiri because they are quite complicated. 

The visitors (the students) wait to be called on to the marae.  The team I work with arrange this special day, we watch nervously as the students gather for Orientation Day, hoping for a good turnout (but not tooo many, we don't want to run out of food!)  In the days leading up to the powhiri we worry about the weather, especially for the Semester 2 (winter) powhiri and have back up plans for rainy days.  Today there were no worries about the weather.  There was a frost earlier on, always a sure sign of a clear, sunny day to follow.

When called the new students move forward into the wharenui:

They remove their shoes before entering the wharenui. 

A visitor who has never set foot on a marae is known as waewae tapu or sacred feet. They must partake in a formal welcoming ceremony, called a pōwhiri, to remove the tapu (sacredness) and become one people with those of the marae.

Looks like these girls spotted me with the camera. Aren't they beautiful?  Their smiles match the warm sunshine of the morning.

Is there enough food?  Is the crowd thinning? 

The best, the very best part of the Orientation Day, is when it's all over, it's gone well, everyone is happy and my wine glass is full.  (If there are any complaints they will come tomorrow and tomorrow is another day.)


  1. Thanks for including us in the welcoming ceremony :)

  2. I do enjoy your more philosophical/introspective posts because you can always combine the seriousness of the moment with humour and feeling.

  3. Being welcomed in such a lovely tradition must surely make the students feel fully part of the school - I love anything that marks a new beginning in a special way.

  4. Hello Pauline,
    What a lovely welcoming ceremony, now onto the study.
    Hope you enjoyed the glass of wine.

    Happy days.

  5. I'm sure it was a success but it sounds like it might be a bit stressful for the organisers. have a rest tomorrow.


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